Streamlining Food Production: Sanitary Graco Bin Evacuation System Speeds Processing, Reduces Injuries

Although temperatures are cooling down outside, things are heating up at Maryland-based Protenergy Foods Corp.

Protenergy manufactures aseptic low-acid beverage and food products, and autumn means one thing: the busy soup season is here. Triangle Process Equipment, in collaboration with Graco, recently provided Protenergy with an innovative processing solution — the SaniForce® Bin Evacuation System (BES) — that has allowed the soup manufacturer to significantly streamline its process, improve batch consistency and reduce the risk of injuries on the production line.

Prior to the SaniForce BES, Protenergy — like many food manufacturers — manually emptied bins for one of its key ingredients: highly viscous tomato paste. Graco’s Southeast Senior Account Manager Rob Woodward has seen time and time again the challenge food manufacturers face when moving viscous products such as tomato paste.

“Manually emptying bins containing tomato paste is extremely labor-intensive and time-consuming,” Woodward said.

The process usually requires two operators lifting heavy wand-and-hose systems into a plywood bin lined with a hermetically sealed bag that contains 300-plus gallons of tomato paste. Most times they need to dilute the tomato paste with water in order to thin the paste enough for it to be suctioned or pumped out of the bin. Operators must manually circulate the wand systems, which themselves can weigh 50 pounds or more, throughout the very thick product in order to evacuate the tomato paste.

Woodward said that one of the greatest benefits the BES brings to food manufacturers is a reduction in strenuous manual labor. This promotes a safer, more ergonomic working environment and ultimately alleviates the potential for compensation claims and employee downtime that result from repetitive stress injuries.

Fast, efficient, easy to operate and easy to clean, Graco’s stainless steel SaniForce BES is commonly used in tomato paste, peanut butter, caramel and mayonnaise applications. The BES is available with electronic or pneumatic controls, and in 2- or 4-piston pump configurations that provide greater discharge power than traditional air-diaphragm pumps. The system’s ram plate features inflatable wiper seals that prevent environmental contaminants from entering the product while ensuring the maximum amount of product — 99.5% or better — is evacuated from the bin because the tight seal wipes the container sidewalls. The BES also enhances batch-to-batch consistency, enabling manufacturers to transfer the tomato paste in its natural state without introducing additional water that needs to later be reduced from the recipe.

Because the BES can move 12 to 14 gallons of viscous product per minute per pump, the time required to empty the bin is reduced by up to 75 percent, eliminating bottlenecks in the production line. Familiar with the efficiencies that Graco’s evacuation system delivers, Triangle Process Equipment Regional Sales Representative Steve Hitch knew right away the positive impact the powerful BES could have on Protenergy’s processing.

“Protenergy could previously only empty 12 bins of tomato paste in one production shift, creating a pinch point in the processing line,” Hitch said. “Now the soup manufacturer can evacuate a bin in about 8 minutes.”

Hitch, who has decades of practical experience in processing, looks forward to helping more food manufacturers increase their margins and promote a more worker-friendly environment through the Graco BES.

“The SaniForce BES is nothing short of a game-changer for food manufacturers,” Hitch said.

To watch a video of a SaniForce BES pumping tomato paste, please visit http://bit.ly/1LsEFYP.

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